Equal Pay: A Question of Worth?
What would you do if you found out that your colleague – who is younger, less qualified and working in the same role as you – was being paid more?
I must add that this colleague is a man.
For the past year I have known that my male colleague has been paid more than me, despite the fact that the work we do is either the same or broadly similar in terms of the tasks we are given, the hours we put in and our responsibility. This is preposterous given that women have been entitled to equal pay for equal work since 1970 when the Equal Pay Act was introduced, establishing that “Employers must give men and women equal treatment if employed to do work found to be of equal value”.
I recently watched Emma Watson’s eloquent UN speech about gender equality and the HeForShe campaign on YouTube. It soon struck me that while I identify as a feminist, believing in equal rights for men and women, I had not done anything about the situation of inequality at work. Emma Watson’s concluding words about why she was giving this speech in the first place struck a chord: “If not me, who? If not now, when?” I realised that I needed to make a stance; who else was going to fight this battle if not me?
With my one-year appraisal coming up at work, I decided it was now or never. I had to raise the issue of equal pay. This was, above all, a question of my worth.
During my appraisal the Director told me how well I had been doing in my job over the last year, before asking if there was anything I wanted to discuss. And so I nervously asked him if he considered that the work I do is of equal value to that of my colleague. He agreed that “most definitely” it is. So, as uncomfortable as this was, I told him that I was aware of the pay discrepancy and that I would like to be paid equally. That men and women are entitled to equal rights – socially, culturally and, in this case, economically.
Today there is still a surprising wage gap between men and women, which must be addressed. It is important that we are paid the same as our male colleagues in order that society sees women being valued and rewarded equally for our hard work, which is as it should be.
From next month I will be on equal pay to my male colleague.